You should all know by now that I am one person in a sea of over 5 million people who suffer from and are being treated for asthma.
Even then, many people go undiagnosed and untreated. If you have a respiratory problem and you think it might be asthma or something similar then please, go to your doctor to get a diagnosis. Asthma can hospitalize you. Luckily for me, when my difficulties have been bad I haven’t had to go into hospital, although I did come close as Mr J was about to all an ambulance if my inhaler and other methods we tried to ease my symptoms didn’t work. In extreme circumstances it can be fatal.
So, what inhalers can you be prescribed to control your asthma?
There are two types of inhaler. Preventer and reliever. Mild cases may not be prescribed a preventer inhaler; I didn’t until I was about 15 years old. Preventer inhalers are usually colour coded brown and relievers are usually colour coded blue. If you are prescribed a purple inhaler it means that your inhaler is a combination one which is a long acting reliever combined with your preventer medication. You can have powder or aerosol inhalers. Throughout my life living with this condition, I have been prescribed both powder and aerosol. Spacers can also be used when taking aerosol inhalers. These are simply a tube that you attach to the mouth piece of your inhaler which allows you to take your time and breathe in the medication more efficiently.
Everyone diagnosed with asthma is prescribed a reliever inhaler. Relievers are designed to act fast to combat any asthma attack symptoms. They help relax your airways quickly to relieve the symptoms and make it easier for you to breathe as the medication goes straight into your lungs.
Asthma UK state that if you need to take your reliever inhaler more than 3 times a week then go and see your doctor. It may be because your symptoms aren’t being managed correctly, you may need a different type of reliever and you may need a preventer inhaler. It may also be the case if you fill 12 reliever inhaler prescriptions a year.
As with all medication, there can be side effects although they are few and far between. Some people experience a faster heartbeat or mild shaking just after taking a dose, but not everyone. I think I’ve only experienced side effects a handful of times over the 25 years I’ve been diagnosed.
Taking your reliever inhaler too much can put you at a higher risk of suffering an asthma attack, believe it or not. This is mainly because your body is getting used to the medication or you’re not treating the underlying issues correctly. If this is the case, then see your doctor. They may prescribe you a preventer inhaler.
Preventer inhalers are usually prescribed to asthma sufferers whose asthma is not being managed well or has very bad symptoms and are usually prescribed on a dosage of twice a day; I take mine as one puff in a morning and one at night. Preventer inhalers are designed to build up your protection against asthma symptoms over the long-term. Preventer inhalers contain a low dose of steroid medicine (corticosteroids). These are what build your asthma protection.
As the effects of a preventer inhaler build up over time, you need to take it everyday the way it is prescribed. If not, you’re not getting the full benefits of the treatment. They will also NOT relieve asthma attack symptoms, which is why you need your reliever on hand at all times. You should notice that you’re not as susceptible to whatever triggers your asthma symptoms if you’ve been taking your preventer regularly. Triggers vary from cigarette smoke and pollen to animal fur and dust with a lot more in between.
I’m quite a forgetful person. If my symptoms seemed to be managed well I tended to forget about taking my preventer in either the morning or night. Some advice I was given was get into a certain routine with taking it. Some people put it by their toothbrush to remember to take it when going to brush their teeth. I always make sure both my reliever and preventer are on my bedside table.
Again, there can be some side effects with preventer inhalers such as sore throats and a hoarse voice. To prevent these kinds of symptoms you can use a spacer or swill your mouth out when you have taken your dose.
What Types Of Preventer And Reliever Inhalers Are There?
There are three different types of reliever inhaler and depending on which you ate prescribed, you need to know how to use it correctly. Your doctor should show you how is best to use your specific type of inhaler. I didn’t feel that I was taking my reliever correctly prior to my last asthma check with the nurse so I asked her if I was doing it correctly. It may be an idea for you to do that too if you’re unsure.
Dry powder inhalers are exactly that, you inhale the dry powder medication. The powder are supplied in capsules, much like a tablet, which is inserted into the inhaler and broken open.
Metered dose inhalers are the aerosol canisters which you press down as you are breathing in to take in the medication. It is with these that you can use a spacer.
Breath actuated inhalers are the same aerosol used in the metered dose inhalers but automatically release the spray as you start to breathe in. That means no pressing, just shake it and breathe in.
Dry powder inhalers were the ones I had most when I was younger. I didn’t have an aerosol one until 2015, when I was sent an Easi-Breathe breath actuated inhaler but now I only have the Salamol metered dose aerosol reliever inhaler.
When I posted my ‘Living With Asthma‘ post in February 2016, I had different inhalers than I do now. I had a Salamol Easi-Breathe CFC-Free reliever inhaler which was a breath actuated aerosol inhaler and an Asmabec Clickhaler which was a dry powder preventer inhaler.
Now, I have just the Salamol CFC-Free reliever inhaler which is the metered dose aerosol inhaler found inside the Easi-Breathe without the breath actuated feature. You have to press down on the canister as you breathe in. The same as the Easi-Breathe, my only let down is the dosage counter. I prefer to have on to keep track of what doses i have left and this one doesn’t have one. I also have a new preventer which is a Beclometasone Easyhaler. It is in a sense a more compact version of the Clickhaler and is still a dry powder inhaler. This one does have a dose counter but it only counts for every 5 doses you take.
I hope that I’ve given you a better insight to inhalers and what they do. Even a little bit of awareness is better than none and now, if you think you may have an undiagnosed lung condition then you can visit the doctor and hopefully get a diagnosis. I’ve suffered with asthma for almost all of my life and seen so many people suffer from it and other lung problems too. My brother was hospitalised when he was roughly 6 months old and diagnosed with bronchiolitis. Thankfully he had an inhaler with a spacer and face mask, albeit he hated having the mask over his face but even more thankful is the fact that he grew out of it.
If you have asthma, try your hardest to keep it well-managed. If you have to go and see the doctor to maybe get a preventer if you’re taking your reliever too often then go.